Autism, Possible VPs, Disappointment in Putin, European Missile Defense, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Al Qaeda, Obama, Clinton, Withdrawal and American Sacrifices ( April 2, 2008 )
John McCain returned to IITM for the first extended interview since December 3rd. The discussion started off with McCain pointing out that April 2, 2008 is the inaugural “World Autism Awareness Day”. The Senator acknowledged Deirdre Imus for her advocacy on behalf of the parents of autistic children, including being a proponent of legislation and other aspects of this “terrible affliction”.
Don Imus led with a question on Senator McCain’s relationship with Mitt Romney. According to the Senator, Romney has been very generous. The Senator met with Romney in Boston after he suspended his campaign. Romney came out to Salt Lake City and Denver with McCain to do some fund raising appearances. The Senator also noted Gov. Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani have all been pretty good. In his opinion they have done a good pretty good job of uniting the party.
Imus followed up with a question regarding picking a Vice Presidential running mate. Specifically when do you make an announcement, before the convention or at the convention? According to the Senator they have just started the process although he would like to do it before the convention to avoid some of the mistakes of the past. He is aware of the importance of the issue given his age.
Imus taking a global tact probed Senator McCain regarding his view of Vladimir Putin. McCain did not hold back. Stating he has “been very disappointed in many things Putin has done”. His disappointment begins with the consolidation of power within Russia. Putin has been engaged in self perpetuating “in-office” policies which have characterized his behavior in the last four years. According to McCain, “We knew who the puppet master was, we now know who the puppet is!” Russia continues to block our efforts whether it be to impose meaningful sanctions on Iran or act effectively in Darfur or other areas. McCain is not very high on Mr. Putin. He doesn’t believe we are headed back to the cold war. Mac’s view? Russia does not have that capability. They have significant problems with an aging population, HIV AIDS etc.
Russia’s whole economy is based on oil exports. The Russians continue to cause problems in Georgia and other parts of Europe. They tend to bully other countries in Europe over threats to cut off oil and gas supplies.
McCain Summary; “Mr Putin’s behavior has not been in keeping with our expectations and frankly would not have him in the G8.”
Imus focused on the European Missile Defense System. He asked Senator McCain if he would support installing the system in Poland and the Czech Republic, even if Russia doesn’t buy the Iran provision?
McCain answers with a strong “Yes, Yes, Yup”. The Senator would work closely with Czechoslovakia Poland and other countries. McCain is concerned about Iranian nuclear progress in the acquisition of nuclear weapons, stating it should be a concern of all of us. From the Mac point of view the system will not work, or be activated unless there is an attack.
The Senator continues to be concerned about increasing Iranian Influence in the region. McCain states the problems we are seeing in southern Iraq are directly related to Iranian influence including the arming of the Shite Milita “Special Groups as they call them”. “So we live in rather dangerous times and interesting times.”
Imus refers to the level of violence in Iraq especially in Basra and Baghdad. Imus asks “What does that tell us about Iraq’s ability to become responsible for their own security?”
Senator McCain points out that Basra has been in the hands of Iranian influence. He also points out that the British (who are principally responsible for the area) have been “ensconced in an airport outside the city and there has been very little if any control.” McCain and others had envisioned a strategy to complete the battle of Mosul, where there is still an Al Qaeda presence, then move south. It was Maliki as Prime Minister who decided to go to Basra and conduct military operations. The opposition was very stiff. It was Al Sadr who declared the cease fire. Will see what happens over the next few days and weeks whether the cease fires holds or we see increased activity particularly in the southern part of Iraq and also in Sadr City.
According to McCain “I’ve always said this is long and tough and hard. When you mishandle a situation like this for nearly 4 years as Donald Rumsfeld has done, you pay a heavy price in sacrifice in American blood and treasure.
McCain reiterated his belief the surge has succeeded and General Petraeus is one the great generals this nation has ever been blessed with.
McCain then went on to question Senator Obama’s “strike force” in Iraq approach. “I am very curious, after he said he would have immediate withdrawals.” McCain states categorically “We can’t have immediate withdrawals otherwise Al Qaeda wins” as he points out “It was Osama Bin Laden that very recently said Iraq was the central battleground in the struggle to defeat the United States and destroy Israel.” McCain takes on both of the Democrat candidates. “But to do what Senator Clinton, Senator Obama seek to do would have catastrophic consequences in the region and in the world.”
Imus states given this situation needs to be resolved appropriately; with 4,000 dead and 30,000 injured and who knows how many Iraqis dead. Imus asks if this has been worth where we are now?
McCain position is; If this had not been mishandled for nearly 4 years. “Which I have spoken out as strongly as he could against it.” Given the correct strategy following the initial success we would not have had this enormous and terrible sacrifice of American young people.
McCain: “So was it worth it? Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the region and the world and I think we would have been satisfied if we handled it after the initial invasion. … We have the right strategy the right people in place I believe we can succeed it the casualties remain down.”
McCain on withdrawals: We will withdraw. “The Iraqi military will take over more and more of the responsibilities. Then we may or may not have a security arrangement with the Iraqis as we have with the Kuwaitis.
McCain takes another swipe at Obama. “And this baloney about us is being around 100 years.” McCain references security arrangements the US has with South Korea, Germany, and Japan. “It does not mean we will have Americans fighting and dying”. He believes we are succeeding and we can withdraw forces soon. Once we get this situation under control and the Iraqi military capable.
Imus closes the segment in classic format, making it about Imus. Points out that it would be great for McCain if he won as well as stating many believe it would be great for the country. “But it would be really great for me if you win – good luck in all this”